When I was a high school music teacher, there were seasons of the year that we would be working on the same piece of music for weeks at a time. And one of the hazards of the job when that’s the …
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When I was a high school music teacher, there were seasons of the year that we would be working on the same piece of music for weeks at a time. And one of the hazards of the job when that’s the reality of your situation, is that you tend to become inured to some of the sounds that you’re hearing, which, of course, makes it harder to diagnose and fix problems. That means that it’s harder to keep making your groups better.
I had a friend, however, who was a very talented musician and teacher. And, perhaps, his single greatest gift was the ability to step away from his group, and turn around, and hear it like it was the first time he’d ever heard it. And, accordingly, his groups tended to be exceptional.
The ability to change one’s perspective, without really changing one’s situation, is a very useful one. And, in this day and age, one that is increasingly rare. It’s called “confirmation bias”—where we tend to look for or, unconsciously, only become aware of facts and input that confirms what we already believe.
Let me give you another example. The Denver Broncos currently have three starter-caliber running backs: Devontae Booker, a third-year pro; Royce Freeman, a rookie; and Phillip Lindsay, another rookie. Officially, on the published depth chart, Booker is listed as the starter. But, if you consult only with the statistics of their performance in the preseason, Booker would clearly be third on that list.
And using the so-called “eye test,” you would say the same thing: the other two seem to make defenders miss to make big plays, while Booker tends to run into the rear ends of his own blockers to lose yards. But, for some reason, the powers that be around the Broncos seem dead-set on making Booker the man. They seem to have some affinity for his game that never makes itself obvious to the fans. You saw a similar bias for the longest time at the quarterback position: for some reason, the Broncos just never seemed to believe their own eyes with regards to Paxton Lynch.
And you know what? We all have the capacity to act out of our own confirmation bias. You think you’re above it? Quick—what’s your go-to news and information site? And, generally speaking, does that news site tend to lean to one side or the other politically? And how does that lean align with your own beliefs? More than that, how often do you seek out information from the other side of the spectrum?
See, we’re now officially in the silly season, and we’re all going to start getting inundated with advertising, and social media feeds, and polling numbers, and all manner of information that we’ll have to sift through as we’re trying to decide how to vote in November. And it becomes very easy to fall back into our comfort zones and only accept information that confirms our own biases.
But, this time around, I challenge you to seek out, and truly understand the arguments of the other side. Who knows? You might learn something. At the very least, think how much fun it could be to anticipate an opponent’s argument, and beat them to it, and then refute it.
This time of year, it’s pretty easy to suggest where to find beauty. For my money, there are two “can’t miss” scenic drives. The first is Guanella Pass between Georgetown and Grant. The colors are spectacular, and, if that disappoints, there’s beautiful views of a number of 14-ers. The second drive is down Highway 285 to Trout Creek Pass. The pass itself is not terribly interesting—Wiki describes it as “mild”—but the peak of the pass overlooks the town of Buena Vista, and provides a breathtaking view of the Collegiate Peaks Range and its eight 14-ers.
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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